Chapter 10: I wish the real world would just stop hassling me

I’ve had such a great outpouring of support since posting this blog. In exchange for your support, I’m going to make this more interactive. Extra points if you can name the song from which I chose the title of this blog post! You’ll find the answer within the post 😛

Picking up from last Friday—I spent the remainder of the weekend recovering from my surgery and was completely ready to go back to work on Monday. Actually I felt HORRIBLE Monday morning when I woke up—I had been 2 days without coughing up blood and the blood returned. I felt immensely weak. My first two patients (both blog readers!) seemed more worried about me than I was about them. Rut roh.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wasn’t going to stay at work very long that day. I gutted through 2 more patients and headed home to rest. Whew. This happened for the next 2 days.

Being on my feet, doing manual therapy (even lighter versions), and TALKING is exhausting. I frequently tell people that I run my mouth all day for a living. And it’s not just meaningless talking. I’m constantly educating—usually emphatically—or perhaps trying to make small talk and entertain my patients, especially when they are not entertaining me. It’s very, very exhausting when you cannot breathe well. My blood pressure was extremely low for several days and several times I felt faint. Let me remind you I’m still losing weight and I’m still testing anemic. I’ve lost 10 pounds and can’t seem to gain any despite all the bacon and butter I’m eating.

Wait. Don’t butter and bacon make everything better?

Needless to say, it was time to realize that doing my job in my current state was generally not a good idea. There was no way for me to know that until I tried it—and I definitely gave it a good college try.

So I completed the process of short term disability/medical leave paperwork and that was that.

It was a pretty easy decision for me, but there was also a small inner conflict only a passionate PT can recognize. I’ve been working with several of my patients for a long time. Others are newer. Either way, we develop relationships and it is such a joy to see them progress back to their sports, daily activities, jobs, or family lives from their injuries. While I have 187% confidence they are in good hands with the rest of my colleagues in my absence, it was a little sad to bid farewell to some of my “lifelong” patients and not be able to see them through their entire PT course of care. Having said that, I felt so assured and confident in my decision to focus on healing and taking care of myself that I have been able to quickly overlook that little disappointment.

So here we are today as I lay on the couch “coughing up a lung” (literally!) and watching the Tour de France with my sweet hubby. I realized that I have never taken a break from anything completely in order to focus on my own needs. I came close back in 12th grade when I had mono and pneumonia at the same time (really fun combo!), but I didn’t take a break from school. I’m thankful to have a job that offers short term disability options so I can still receive a little bit of pay while I convalesce (what a fancy word!).

In health news-I have another pre-surgery procedure coming up Monday. This is the last procedure before I have THE surgery—a surgery whose date and type still has yet to be determined. I’m having a pulmonary angiogram—basically a fancy way of looking at the blood vessels in my lung to determine where they are and how involved they are with my lung mass. That way my surgeon will know better 1) what to do and 2) how to do it and 3) how not to compromise the blood flow to the rest of my lung/heart/cardiopulmonary system in removing the mass.

Then, he will present my case the next day to the thoracic oncology conference. We had thought the presentation would be 4 days ago (this past Tuesday), but it turns out the surgeon’s office got their Tuesdays confused. Happens to me all the time. So, my “weird” and “interesting” case will be on display for a bunch of local experts in 3 days. It feels comforting to know that several minds will be making decisions about what to do. It also makes me feel kind of like a VIP.

I guess we all want to be famous for something…

I think we are finally getting close to a FINAL plan. I know I will feel much better once I know exactly when my surgery date is. In the days leading up to surgery, I am hoping to rest, heal, gain peace and understanding, and focus on relaxing and mentally preparing for the big surgery. I’m also hoping to gain some weight (suggestions welcome! I’ve tried everything!) and do a little strength building since I’ve felt so weak.

Oh, and for those who may not be aware, we have given the lung mass a name. Daniel gets credit for naming him “Benedict” after one of the biggest traitors in world history. Only difference is this Benedict lives in my lung and is not a member of the American British army. It’s more fun to personify the mass and brings some humor into the situation. For those that follow me on social media (@Julzthefish on Twitter, @juliagranger on Instagram) you will probably see the hashtag #takethatBenedict.

So yeah. #takethatBenedict.

And I’m really excited about a great grain free/dairy free/Paleo baking website I found. This weekend I’m planning to bake up a storm – waffles, biscuits, maybe some other things (muffins)? After procedures with anesthesia, I tend to want comfort food and carbs. I’ve noticed some of my candida symptoms creep back as I’ve skirted the rules ever so slightly in the past week or so, so I’m hoping to be ahead of the game and be ready this time.

Oh, and the song is Real World by Matchbox 20 –circa 1997. This song just so happened to be my favorite “pump up” song pre-swim meets in my 13-14 days. I like to think it’s responsible for my first junior national cut at Senior Regionals in 1998 in Nashville. The lyrics weren’t necessarily inspirational for a sport, but the tempo and melody were VERY catchy and perfect for a 14 year old who didn’t know any better. If you look at the lyrics, they actually really apply to my situation these days. Sometimes, things just come full circle.

I wonder what it’s like to be a superhero? I wonder where I’d go if I could fly around downtown here? From some other planet I get this funky high on a yellow sun. Boy I bet my friends will all be stunned. They’re stunned. Straight up, what did you hope to learn about here? If I was someone else, would this all fall apart? Strange, where were you when we started this gig? I wish the real world would just stop hassling me…

Read on to Chapter 11